'Thank God' for high-speed rail funding, Gov. Jerry Brown says
"It's a jobs creator, and thank God we got it," Gov. Jerry Brown said of funding for high speed rail, narrowly approved by the Legislature last week. He and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were at the Port of Oakland on Monday to take a victory lap.
The state Senate barely passed $8 billion in state and federal spending on the bullet train and related transportation projects on Friday, sending the bill to Brown for his signature. The federal funding was contingent on the state allocating money.
Republicans have blasted high-speed rail as a waste of money. Some Democrats who have supported the concept have criticized the plan because it starts construction in the less-populated Central Valley and there are no guarantees of future federal funding.
Brown said he wasn't worried about the rest of the money for the estimated $68 billion plan.
"When Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the Civil War, started the intercontinental railroad, he didn't know where the money was coming from," Brown said.
Asked what will happen if the rest of the money doesn't come from the federal government, he said, "If that happens, come and talk to me and I'll tell you."
High-speed rail plans have stalled in other states, like Florida and Ohio. But LaHood said the approval of initial funding in California would send a "very strong message across the country."
"It sets a good example," he said. "We've invested more money here than any other place in the country."
LaHood added, "California is still willing to do big infrastructure projects, and put their people to work."
-- Chris Megerian in Oakland